The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day there were nearly 8 million people living in modern slavery in India. The GSI 2018 reports an emerging trend in northeast India where organised trafficking syndicates operate along the open and unmanned international borders, duping or coercing young girls seeking employment outside their local area in to forced sexual exploitation. Many women and girls are lured with the promise of a good job but then forced in to sex work, with a 'conditioning' period involving violence, threats, debt bondage and rape.
Sita was 11 years old when she was promised a job in Kaligoni by someone from her village. However, she was instead taken to Kolkata to a brothel and kept until her first menstruation, after which she was taken to Bombay and sold in to forced sexual exploitation. At the age of 15 Sita ran away back to Kolkata.
A village brother promised to give me a job in Kaligonj but took me to Kolkata instead. He gave me to Rina Malkeen in Sonagachi. I was only 11½ years old and she kept me for one year with relatives outside the brothel. When I had my first menstruation, she took me to Bombay and sold me there to a malkeen.
Many foreigners came and, among them, many Arabs. They like little girls. One man from West Bengal especially liked me and he told the malkeen not to send other men to me. I had more free time as a result. My malkeen sent me to the market and I used to keep a few rupees for myself and deposit these with a shopkeeper.
Under our malkeen, there were 65 girls and I was the youngest. I could not speak Hindi. One day, the police raided our place. In court, I spoke Bangla and said I had come out of my own accord. I was quite tall and I looked older. I was returned to my malkeen.
When I was 15 years old, I fled with another girl. The malkeen took all the money my babu gave me, so I had nothing except what I had deposited with the shopkeeper. We went to the railway station and the shopkeeper bought our tickets for Kolkata. I went back to Rina Malkeen. I worked as an adiya for her for 2½ months but she did not keep the accounts properly, so I quarreled with her and moved with another malkeen.
Narrative located in the report ‘Beyond Boundaries: A Critical Look at Women Labour Migration and the Trafficking Within’ by Thérèse Blanchet provided courtesy of The Child Protection Hub